The National Association of Hispanic Journalists objects to a ruling made by the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C, on Jan. 16 that found the Federal Communications Commission's Equal Employment Opportunity regulations unconstitutional.
The FCC had issued new EEO regulations last year after a federal court found its old regulations unconstitutional. The new EEO rules called for broadcasters to achieve broad outreach in their recruiting efforts by widely disseminating information about job openings.
The court found that the new regulations "put official pressure upon broadcasters to recruit minority candidates, thus creating a race-based classification that is narrowly tailored to support a compelling governmental interest and is therefore unconstitutional."
The following is a statement made by NAHJ President Cecilia Alvear on the court's decision:
"It is an extremely disappointing decision. Even with the former EEO guidelines in place, it took decades for the broadcasting industry to achieve a very modest level of diversity. It is hard to believe that change will occur at an accelerated rate on a purely voluntary basis. This can have devastating consequences because if the industry does not reflect the communities it serves, we will continue to see coverage that does not reflect the true face of America. It is obvious that we at the NAHJ and the other organizations that represent journalists of color will have to double our efforts to help bring about the desired changes. We will endeavor to meet with the new chair of the FCC to express our concerns and we call on the Radio-Television News Directors Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, the networks and independent broadcasters to come forth with pro-active, strong plans that will insure that the push toward diversity continues and intensifies."
Latinos made up only 4 percent of all news directors and newsroom employees working at local English-language television stations in 2000, according to the RTNDA's annual newsroom employment survey. Latinos made up only 3 percent of all radio newsroom employees.
NAHJ's annual "Brownout Report," which studies news coverage of Latinos, found that stories about Latinos made up only 1.3 percent of all network news stories that aired on the nightly newscasts of ABC, CBS and NBC in 1999. Latinos make up close to 12 percent of the nation's population.
The mission of the NAHJ, founded in 1984, is to increase the number of Latinos entering the media profession and to improve news coverage of the nation's Latino community.